The following is a special guest post from "Frat House Mike".
The Philadelphia Phillies are not having a very good season. Currently, they are in last place in the NL East – are 35-40, 5 games under .500 – are playing .467 ball – are 8 games behind the East leading Washington Nationals; and, are the 11th team in the National League. These are important facts to remember for a moment.
YET, we are constantly hearing from local Philly sports pundits, “okay, but wait a minute, the Phils are only x-games out of the second Wild Card spot.”
Huh? What . . . second Wild Card? Oh yeah . . . that’s right, we have that all-important second Wild Card this year!
I’ve heard national sports analysts suggest that MLB’s addition of the second Wild Card playoff spot will “completely change the complexion” of how teams view and approach the playoffs. I’ve heard it stated that the second Wild Card will impact everything from how teams work their starting rotations in the waning days of the season, to how the trade deadline will be managed. It is believed that far fewer teams will be “sellers” at the trade deadline as a result of this additional playoff spot.
WOW, with such an impactful rule change that, by the way, was announced during THIS season’s training camp JUST before the season began, we should take a good look at this touted monumental playoff change. (I need you to read this over very, very carefully.)
Taken directly from Major League Baseball’s web site article dated March 2, 2012 stated:
“Major League Baseball expanded its playoffs for the third time, this time with the addition of two more Wild Card teams and a single elimination game in each league. That new format will begin this year.
An agreement between MLB and the Players Association, finalized on Friday, adds a second Wild Card to both the American and National Leagues, increasing the postseason field to 10, the largest in Major League history and the first such expansion since 1994.
The three division winners in each league will await the survivor of a one-game playoff between the Wild Card teams in each league. Both games are slated for Friday, Oct. 5, two days after the end of the regular season. Barring weather disruptions, the Division Series field of four teams in each league will begin the following Saturday and Sunday.”
Hoping you read that closely, I ask . . . is that really the addition of an extra Wild Card team . . . an “expansion” of the playoffs? Really?
Folks, let’s get this straight . . . that’s not a playoff . . . that’s a “play-in!” It’s the same thing the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament did two seasons ago when they expanded the “Field-of-64” to a field of 68 with two “play-in” games preceding the actual Tournament commencement.
Let’s describe this in fewer words. The American & National League division winners automatically get into the playoffs. That’s not changed. However, NOW the teams with the top two regular season records in the leagues will be granted the right to play a one-game deciding match to determine the respective AL and NL Wild Card teams . . . THEN, the playoffs begin!
Why . . . why . . . WHY is so much being made of this second Wild Card playoff to the extent that it’s going to modify how teams manage so much of the second halves of their season? I truly don’t get it. IT’S A ONE GAME PLAY-IN which could go either way. Why not just flip a coin?
Okay, now I will grant you, it may provide for some accelerated excitement on Friday, October 5 particularly if you have a rooting interest one way or another. But, to suggest that THIS is such an immensely changing effect is ludicrous.
Now, let’s put this into perspective with regard to the Leagues as they are currently.
If the season ended today (June 25, 2012) – In the American League the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers would all be in as Division winners. THEN the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays (inter-division rivals) would play a one-game to be the AL Wild Card team. (Wow, would Orioles fans scream for the rules to be changed back if they lost a one-game “series”.)
In the National League; the Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers would all be in. THEN the San Francisco Giants would play one game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Want some more reality? In order for the Philadelphia Phillies to be allowed to “flip-a-coin” against the Giants, they would have to hop-scotch over the Miami Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, AND Pittsburgh Pirates . . . all before the conclusion of the season . . . and what . . . all in the hope that they catch fire and roll through the playoffs to a World Series Championship?
And, one more thought . . . does “reality” allow the one Wild Card team that loses in the one-game to the other Wild Card team to promote that they made it to the playoffs? PLEASEEEEEEE . . .